The NBA in recent years has become extremely top heavy, more so than ever before. The league has entered a super-team era, all with contrasting compositions. LeBron James and the Cavaliers, The Curry and Durant led Warriors, and the same ole’ San Antonio Spurs dominate the current landscape. Even teams like the Rockets and Clippers boast a stocked amount of talent. There is them, and there is everybody else. It seems as though being mediocre or even above average is a waste of time nowadays. You either have the firepower to compete with these super-teams or enter a rebuild, with no reason to be in-between.
However, as time-tested as LeBron James and the Spurs are, there eventually has to come a time when the current bottom feeders experience the top. If you are build to win now or a fringe playoff team, your future is questionable. Down below we will look at which current rebuilding teams have the brightest futures.
4. New Orleans Pelicans
This is solely off the presence of arguably the two best big men in the NBA, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. You would have to look back to the days of Tim Duncan and David Robinson or Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson to find a big men duo as dynamic as these two. The problem is, they are lacking in every other aspect of what it takes to be a great team. Sure, they have Jrue Holiday, who has struggles to find his former 76ers All-Star form, but outside of Holiday, their depth is almost nonexistent.
They currently do not have a wing player capable of taking over a game, or eve contribute consistently. Until they acquire more talent, as well as allow the chemistry between Davis and Cousins to develop, they will continue to be considered and up and coming force, nothing more. Now, a return to New Orleans by Chris Paul could change the whole outlook of the team’s composition.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
Ah, the process. The blueprint Sam Hinkie envisioned during the early days of the obvious intentional tanking is finally starting to come to fruition. With budding center Joel Embiid, they finally have a player they can build around. Combine that with players like Dario Saric and Ben Simmons, two current/future rookie of the year candidates, as well as another lottery pick in the 2017 NBA draft and you have pieces to work with.
Assuming Embiid and crew can stay healthy and fit well together, there is no reason for Philly to continue to be mediocre in the following years. If the process progresses as hoped, they could arguably have the best collection of young talent in the league.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves
Often times referred to the team to watch out for, the Timberwolves have not come along as fast as many had initially hoped. Due to the injury to Zach Lavine and the up and down development of Andrew Wiggins, the team is not quite where it should be. However, having a player like Karl-Anthony Towns can make all of that background music. KAT, as people call him, has developed into not only one of the brightest young players in the league but arguably one of the big men in the game period.
They are all still so young, however. People cannot expect too much too soon, and because of that, it is easy to be optimistic about Minnesota’s future. With another potential high draft pick, and a relatively inexperienced point guard in Kris Dunn, they have everything you could ask for from a young team. Wiggins can still be the player he was lauded to be, and LaVine hopefully heals with no setbacks. Only time will tell how much this undeniably young core achieves, and you would be a fool to bet against them.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
Many people would be hesitant to say this Lakers team has the brightest future out of these teams. However, what has to be considered is the franchise that is being discussed. This is not New Orleans or Minnesota, this is the Los Angeles Lakers(!) The Lakers are arguably the most iconic franchise in NBA history and have the track record to show for it. They recently hired Magic Johnson to be the president of basketball operations. This move could be considered refreshing to a team that had run its course from a management perspective.
Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss had failed to adequately operate the team and it was becoming obvious, even so much so that Jim’s sister Jeanie Buss, the co-owner and president of the Lakers, fired her own brother and is currently in the middle of a legal battle with him over ownership over the franchise. From a basketball perspective, they have some great young talent. Believe what you want, but D'Angelo Russell is a future All-Star in this league, and Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle are well on their way to becoming phenomenal players. They also are likely to get a top 3 selection in this year’s draft, meaning there is a possibility they can add Lonzo Ball to their young core.
Veterans like Timofey Mozgov, Luol Deng, and Nick Young among others are temporary plugins while the young players develop. They already shipped Lou Williams out of town. With a potential abundance of cap space, a young uber-talented core, and the aura of Los Angeles working in their favor expect the Los Angeles Lakers to once again be a force sooner rather than later.